‘Legends of Tomorrow’ (Season 2): Sophomore Success

The great thing about the Arrowverse is that as soon as one show begins to falter in quality, another seems to find its footing or gain a second wind. Sure, it’d be nice if all four – soon to be five, should Black Lightning get picked up – were at the top of their game all the time, but it’s good to look back over five years of superhero TV and know that at least one or two of the shows was doing something spectacular.

Such is the case with Legends of Tomorrow this season, which recovered from a dull, plodding first season to become the goofy, over-the-top time travel show it always should’ve been. From the weekly aberration adventures early in the season to the growing conflict with the Legion of Doom in the back half, Legends provided plenty of temporal hijinks, fun guest stars, and surprisingly effective character arcs throughout. With the Spear of Destiny destroyed and the second season over, it’s a good time to look back at what made this season such a success.

Let’s start with departing characters, particularly the Hawks that flew off at the end of season one. Despite the show’s initial promise to show some of our favorite Arrow and The Flash characters taking center stage, the main arc instead focused almost all of its narrative attention on the eternal doomed love of Carter and Kendra. The problem was that even as early as that year’s crossover fully introducing the characters, they were fairly dull characters, and that didn’t get much better as we learned more about their conflict with Vandal Savage.

This season instead focused in on characters we already knew and cared about. Sara got the chance to grow as the team’s new leader, Mick grappled with his place on the team, and Stein dealt with his newly created daughter. Even goofball Ray faced the question of whether he was a hero without the suit, odd though the whole arc was. The only characters that suffered, surprisingly, were the team’s new members; Nate felt like an even bro-ier version of Ray, while Amaya just never felt that well-defined beyond her powerset.

Of course, improved characters needed a better class of supervillain to face off against, and the Legion of Doom more than delivered. The show wisely brought three of the Arrowverse’s best Big Bads together into a single scenery-chewing machine, making for a delightful trio of antagonists. This was a group strong enough to carry the show for an entire episode, while Merlyn, Darhk, and Thawne could in turn offer different threats on a week-to-week basis. Sure, it would’ve been nice for promised fourth member Captain Cold to show up earlier than the third-to-last episode, but the Legion was still a huge step up from Vandal Savage.

Finally, it’s worth noting just how lighthearted and fun this season was compared to last. The show cast off the grim tone, ridiculous rules, and dour Time Masters of the first season and instead let the team just have crazy adventures. Confederate zombies, geek icons like George Lucas and J.R.R. Tolkien, and the premiere of the full-on Justice Society were all signs of a show fully embracing the comic book possibilities inherent in its premise. Even when the budget limitations were apparent – lot of episodes took place in what appeared to be the same open field – there was an ease to the ludicrous storytelling that made each episode a delight.

With a third season ahead that presents even crazier possibilities, I’m glad to know Legends of Tomorrow is now a show capable of delivering on those promises. When and wherever the Waverider heads next, we can only hope it stays as fun a place to hang out as it was this season.